I’m Christine Pinsent-Johnson. I’ve worked in the field of adult literacy education for over 25 years. Most of this time was spent working in an adult learning program. For the past 10 years or so I have focused on research, including an extensive and on-going examination of the way international adult literacy assessments impact everyday teaching and learning.
I am investigating how a large-scale international adult literacy assessment overseen by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been transposed into adult learning programs and classrooms in Ontario. Methodological elements of the international testing initiative are carried into programs by accountability frameworks, curriculum development frameworks, a series of spin-off assessments for program and individual use, learning materials and even a literacy learning pedagogy. Using institutional ethnography and related textual analysis of assessment development methods—their underpinning constructs, explanations of the results and stated implications of results— my findings demonstrate how day-to-day learning is being directly shaped by global economic and competitiveness interests and the large-scale assessments designed to measure, control and cultivate those interests. Transposing the assessment into educational settings has led to a myriad of problems, contradictions and confusions, stifling equitable learning opportunities and exacerbating existing educational inequalities.
The importance of my analysis in the field of Adult Literacy and Numeracy (ALN) was recently supported in the journal Literacy and Numeracy Studies.
We hope to see more work that contributes to a detailed interrogation of ALN policy as an active social process. Work that asks, for example, what are the mechanisms through which OECD statistical data has systematically extinguished practitioner knowledge and repositioned practitioners as functionaries rather than as educators? We continue to wonder who is responding to the challenge by Brandt and Clinton (2002) that literacy studies find ways to better analyse connections between the global and the local. We eagerly await more research, like that of Pinsent-Johnson (2015), documenting the mechanisms through which ALN policy and practice are aligned, locally and globally, but also studies that investigate what enables, and limits, educators’ attempts to prioritise the human needs of ALN students over the documentary demands of current policies (Tannis Atkinson and Nancy Jackson, 2016).
The blog is a way to share findings, articulate the issues, illustrate the impacts on people’s learning lives and engage in a conversation with others.
You can also find me on LinkedIn.